ugaldew's blog

Geometrical Composition Guides

posted by ugaldew, Dec 1, 2006 12:30 AM — 42 comments

Do you often wonder when you should crop or move or rotate a pic and what about the composition ? Well this next tutorial is a very practical way of creating compositions geometrically interesting , no much theory but lots of action, We will use geometrical guides that you can download to check whether the subject of our image is in the center of interest and if the elements keep a relation among them , I think is a great and really easy way to get a interesting compositions ! so lets get this started ! and btw do not worry if you are a photography or PS newbie this practice is easy and quick !

Before we start , where do these guides come from ?

In beauty arts , famous paintings , buildings , photographs , even biological forms , there a couple of very well known , recurrent patterns such as root 5 , phi number , golden ratio etc , so the next geometrical guides are graphic representations of those proportions



Bruce Barnbaum

Dan Burkholder

As i said I wont bore you with lots of theory .... I advice you yo visit the great Jodie Coston's Lessons at Morguefile ;)

Now lets bring some action here !!



> GIF Files

Whats in the box ?

Basic Guides for Photography

Half / Thirds

Quarts/ Root 5

Golden Ratio and derivates

When do we use these Guides ?

1 To check a composition.- To check easily whether the subject is actually in the center of interest and to see if there is a relation among its elements.

2.- When we are reframing a picture . Sometimes it is difficult to know what the composition will be at the time of shoting so if we take a wide shot , then we can edit it , using these formats to create the composition and know exactly where to crop move or rotate ,following a geometrical pattern that will make our pic more interesting !

Paulo Porta


>> Step 1
Open Image
Open your picture in Photoshop

>> Step 2
Open the geometrical guides
Open the geometrical guide or guides you are interested in working with ( from the PSD file or from the GIFs Files folder )

>> Step 3
Select the geometrical graphic , copy it and paste it into your photo

Now you have to select the guide, You can do it both ,1.- pressing Crtl and selcting the "guide layer" "

and then Copy it (Ctrl+C) and go to you picture and Paste it (Ctrl+V)

if using PSD file only drag the desired layer into your picture

>> Step 4
Transform (move and resize ) the graphic

In this step you have to place the geometrical guide into your picture and then look for the center , or the composition that best matches a geometrical pattern or the places where it links your elements etc !

For this press Ctrl + T (edit/transform/scale)

here I added the Phi Guides ... and look what a lovely pattern Ive just found ! I think it obvious where is the crop


>> Step 1
Open Image
Open your picture in Photoshop

>> Step 2
Select the Custom Shape tool

Go to the tool's window and then to the shape tools section and select Custom Shape tool

>> Step 2b
Load the Geometrical guides library

In the top of photo shop ( in the properties custom shape tool) you will find a shape button press it , then press the arrow button in the window just pop up and then select Load Shapes from the menu that pop up , and then select the CSH file of Geometry custom library

>> Step 3
Select one of the Guides you have just load and Draw it in your Picture

Press the again the Shape button in the custom shape properties at the top of you photoshop and then select the guide you want to work with

>> Step 3a
Draw the shape into your picture

Draw the guide and press SHIFT while dragging so it is not distorted

The Guides in Use

Golden Ratio

Root Five


Golden Ratio derivates

Download the Geometrical Format sets HERE

Personal Note

( if we graph the numbers of any system patterns will emerge !)

by this is my way to say there are no unbreakable rules and less for art , this is a way to math certain information that we are not usually aware of ! . Never the less , even when it helps it is not a golden rule to get a great pic or refuse other which dont have it !

Again I hope you have found this tutorial useful , and that you have enjoyed as much as I did writing it , please feel free to ask anything or write an email to if you have more doubts or comments about this tutorial

Miguel Ugalde Ugaldew

Comments | RSS

1. posted by jinxd, Feb 20, 2007 3:19 AM

I'm sitting here with my mouth open thinking "ingenious!". What a fantastic guide! Thank you so very much for sharing =)

2. posted by juliaf, Dec 1, 2006 8:11 PM

This is really a wonderful tutorial. I can't wait to start using the guides.

3. posted by ZaNuDa, Dec 2, 2006 2:04 AM

The great article with the great news for me.I didn't even suspect about anything else exept Golden Ratio. It's a great discovery for me. Thanks A LOT, Miguel!

4. posted by Robmania, Dec 1, 2006 10:03 AM

What a great tut, as a newbie I will definitely benefit from it.

You used one of my photos ( as an example which is great as I can totally identify with it, having taken the photo and knowing where I "went wrong". Thanks

5. posted by polska1, Dec 1, 2006 10:16 AM

Fantastic! A lot of work done! Great, helpful tutorial!
Thank you

6. posted by a_kartha, Dec 1, 2006 11:50 AM

Miguel, as usual your tute is one of the best on this site. I completely agree, this is your best work yet!

Like I remember saying earlier, you have a passion to teach and share your knowledge in photography.

Thanks a lot, this was very instructive and really helps people who want to better their art of composition. Once again, well done!


7. posted by Slantsixx, Dec 1, 2006 5:34 PM

Excellent work! "10"
(Except maybe the last photo, though it is artistic unlike some others on this site...)

Enjoying the iPod? :)

8. posted by viejozorro, Feb 17, 2007 12:09 AM

Felicidades... excelente tutorial, resumes y simplificas.
Congratulations… excellent tutorial, you summarize and you simplify.

9. posted by gerbrak, Dec 3, 2006 9:32 AM

Miguel, I've always had problems knowing just how to crop and this is very, very helpful! Thank you so much. I'm definately going to use your advice!

10. posted by peter_w, Dec 3, 2006 1:52 PM

Awesome tutorial, the downloadable guides are extremely useful. And I absolutely love the banner graphic :)

Just one little note, if you had created the guides as a custom shape library, they would have been accessible directly from within Photoshop without the need to open a file and copy it over. Plus, they would have been vector graphics that remain precise even when used with very big images.

10 nonetheless :)

11. posted by omar_franc, Dec 4, 2006 4:55 AM

100% Useful, in everyway. Thank you

12. posted by intruso4, Dec 4, 2006 6:39 PM

Que tal ugaldew....
Como siempre colaborando con esta gran comunidad con material muy claro y de muy fácil entendimiento para todos, tanto para los que conocen estas reglas como tambien para los que estan interesados en aprender.
Seguramente lo van a utilizar muchisimas personas

13. posted by LittleMan, Dec 5, 2006 11:04 PM

Nice tutorial first time using the
Golden Ratio derivates
and picture rejected for bad cropping '~'

But i still love them little frames…


14. posted by theRIAA, Dec 7, 2006 5:01 AM

LOL, for most your just centering the object

15. posted by ugaldew, Dec 9, 2006 12:59 AM

11@ upppsss ..... I wish I could see your pic and your croping :)

16. posted by suhit_a, Dec 11, 2006 2:04 AM

Great tutorial, any idea on how this can be done if I do not have photoshop?

I use a mac.


17. posted by gerbrak, Dec 11, 2006 8:41 AM

Miguel, could you do what # 8 suggested if it's not too much trouble? (create the guides as a custom shape library??)

18. posted by ugaldew, Dec 11, 2006 12:36 PM

14@ there is Photoshop for mac , but I guess you can place the guides in any photo edition software

15@ custom shape library? ... I dont think I know how to do that .. fist I put all the gifs in a psd file .. but it was much more heavy and it could narrow the tutorial just for PS user when it can be achieved in most softwares ...

BUt I will find out how to make this custom shapes so PS users can download it

19. posted by mambo, Dec 13, 2006 7:35 AM

Thank you for your generous advise. I am sure I will benefit greatly for this.

KEEP IT UP! Good job.

20. posted by carreirabr, Dec 13, 2006 4:35 PM

Great work pal!
This is one of most complete and well written tutorial that I've ever seen!
Thank you so much for this!

21. posted by clangfu, Dec 20, 2006 4:53 AM

this tutorial is fantastic! :)

22. posted by sofijab, Dec 20, 2006 8:29 AM

Thank you very much!

23. posted by Cloughman, Dec 20, 2006 11:05 AM

That was excellent and easy to understand even for me on my first visit, Thanks

24. posted by hlangen, Dec 23, 2006 11:20 AM

What a wounderful tutorial.

I've learned some of that stuff once but never so well explained.

Thank you so much.

25. posted by psplayer06, Dec 27, 2006 5:49 AM

thanks so much for this, it's really helped make my Photos on DA look so much better i've only used the rule of thirds so far, but now that i've reread this im going to try to use the golden ratio and others as well! this is much apreciated!!

definitly a 10


26. posted by ikdietrich, Dec 28, 2006 2:18 PM

Like someone else already said - turn these into custom shapes and you have a great set of editing tools. These are awesome for me because I still have a tendancy to center my main subject, especially when taking photo's of my kids. It's a hard habit to break. Great tutorial.

27. posted by LittleMan, Jan 3, 2007 4:13 PM

@13 ugaldew i think i just went in to close to the subject (it was rather an abstract picture)

Oooh and i have made costum shapes of your .gif-files to use in Photoshop like was said @8.
That way i don't need to open up the gif files anymore and the shapes are always there… (Saves some time…)

Grtz Jef

28. posted by -Mike-, Jan 6, 2007 1:25 PM

Excellent. Really useful to have those guides. Great idea.

29. posted by aldin, Jan 17, 2007 2:39 PM

This was a good one! Will be very, usefull...


30. posted by josecarli, Jan 19, 2007 3:24 PM

Really nice, simple and useful. Thank you very much

31. posted by topfer, Jan 22, 2007 5:09 PM

This blog is so good that I have mailed this link to all of my design co-workers. Thank you for the downloadable shapes!!!

32. posted by mezukhan, Jan 29, 2007 8:20 AM

The tutorial is PERFACTO, i would be really helpful.

33. posted by stefanies, Feb 9, 2007 9:34 AM

Thank you for the wonderful tut,

34. posted by JustTeej, Feb 14, 2007 12:19 AM

This is awesome, very useful as I read about the ratios yesterday. Knowing the equation or simply seeing a bunch of rectangles in an example doesn't help much, but this...This is useful!

35. posted by joshuadio, Feb 20, 2007 8:13 AM

Thanks a lot

very inspirational for a newbie like me

36. posted by rmarinello, Sep 26, 2007 12:44 PM

Very useful, I advise this post to see your tutorial in my little blog

37. posted by dsilverman, Mar 16, 2009 11:15 PM

please, reupload the pictures

38. posted by mawethu, Apr 18, 2009 11:23 AM

the pictures are gone. please re-upload. thanks

39. posted by agez, Aug 5, 2009 2:47 AM beijing hotels

40. posted by disenoweb9, Feb 22, 2013 7:57 AM

AWESOME. thank you for taking your time to teach us! I really learned a lot. WOW.

41. posted by careersB, May 27, 2013 3:59 AM

thanks, very usefull

42. posted by carlislekm, Jul 29, 2013 4:41 AM

Very interesting

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